“Now calm down, young lady. It’s not my job to handle that. To be honest with you, you’re wrong.”

Those two sentences are chock-full of phrases that spell doom for any company that wants to excel in customer service, according the experts. They are culled from a recent blog post on Forbes that tried to hone in on the worst things people working in call centres or other channels can say to clients coming to them with a problem.

There are so many ways to make an issue worse in a customer service situation that some firms might feel tongue-tied, but of course saying nothing is not an option. In fact, with the rise of channels like social media and online customer communities, there are many more avenues where customers expect a response – provided it’s worded properly. These are just a few guidelines on how to talk in a way they’ll want to listen.

“Sorry you’re having this issue.”

People want acknowledgement that you, as a representative of your firm, recognize the damage certain problems have on the relationship they’ve built with a particular firm. They also want to know you’re taking ownership of it. Be direct but brief enough that the response is conveyed genuinely no matter whether you’re interacting via phone call, chat session, social media or text message.

“I have your information right here.”

Customers do not want to be put in a scenario where a customer service rep has to play detective and get up to speed on a situation. That’s why companies using CRM, marketing automation software and customer service apps have a built-in advantage in that they can collect and manage customer information to have immediate access to the most relevant details.

“Here’s what we can do right now.”

Think about the way data and analytics are being used by companies to try and see into the future and improve the way they market and sell products and services. Customers expect the same level of insight – and action – when they call in for support after those products and services have been purchased. It’s essential that customer service teams use data strategically to identify repeatable processes to fix common problems, or at least route customers more quickly to people or other resources that can address their questions or complaints.

“I just want to make sure you know . . .”

Avoid language that sounds like the burden for learning certain details about a product, service or support process falls on the customer, rather than on you. Point them to the easiest channels to access this information, particularly if there are options for mobile devices, which is probably their most-used channel in many cases.

“Would this work?”

Unfortunately, some products go out of stock, or service options don’t exist in perpetuity. Or there’s simply a lack of information to completely take care of everything the customer brings forward. The next best thing is to give them alternatives to show you’re invested in their success and committing to doing whatever you can. The worst that can happen is you get more information about what won’t work, and how you might tailor other offerings.

“What’s the best way for us to follow up with you?”

A customer service problem that starts on Twitter may be better addressed by directing customers to a live agent on a phone. In other cases, there might be self-service capabilities by encouraging customers to work with an online community of some kind. What’s critical is that any next steps or supplementary information be conveyed in the channel that makes the most sense (or is easiest) for the customer, not the firm resolving the issue.

“Let me know if I can help with anything else!”

Although customers don’t want to be subjected to the third degree when they have a problem or complaint, they’ll give more information or supply additional details if they think they’re being heard and dealt with in a professional and conscientious manner. Never miss an opportunity to turn problem resolution into the next phase of nurturing a stronger customer relationship. That’s the best way to ensure the vocabulary they use to talk about your firm is the kind you want as well.

Learn how Salesforce’s Service Cloud customer service software gives you faster, smarter customer support or how Desk.com’s all-in-one customer support app can empower small businesses with an out-of-the-box help desk solution. You can also see what makes the best service organizations successful in Salesforce’s free eBook: